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What Sequestration Means to Us

It’s called Sequestration.  You’ve seen the term in dozens of articles.  It’s been talked about on Fox, CNN, and all the other major news organizations.  But, what, exactly, does sequestration mean, and a fair question, “why should I care?”  It sounds like just another invented government word that only someone in the Washington establishment is likely to understand.  Normally, I would say, yes, that’s about it, but in this case, sequestration has the potential of substantially impacting government operations.  And this could include spending and jobs in our area. 

Sequestration, strangely enough, is not a new term.  It was first used in a long forgotten budget cutting bill enacted in the 1980’s called “Gramm Rudman Hollings.”  This legislation was created to deal with what was then considered an astronomical deficit of $2 Trillion.  What it did was to apply cuts to existing programs across the board.  Alas, it wasn’t that effective a tool.  Congress, and President Reagan were enacting bigger and bigger budgets and sequestration, which was much smaller than the increases, just couldn’t keep up.

Read more: What Sequestration Means to Us

When there is no middle ground in politics

There is, or at least there was, an old rule of thumb when it came to national politics. It wasn’t particularly formal, but I heard it repeated enough, and saw it validated enough, that it seemed like a pretty good generalization.  The rule dealt with the size and loyalty of the Democratic and Republican base. Namely, that roughly 35% of the voters can be guaranteed to support one party while another 35%, give or take, will support the other party. That took care of about 70% of the voters. However, the remainder, roughly 30%, though some might lean one way or the other, were the independents, and were the votes both parties fought for during the general election.  

Read more: When there is no middle ground in politics

A lesson from history: Negative ads work

Of all the hundreds of TV advertisements that will run this fall it’s estimated that more than 80% of them will be negative. Of course, there is nothing new in negative campaigning. Each election cycle, we carry on as if it’s a new horror of the American political system, but it’s not. Negative campaigning has been around since the beginning of the republic. They didn’t have television or radio back then, but ask Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln about negative campaigns, then, in the form of fliers, and editorials, and they will know exactly what you’re talking about. 

Read more: A lesson from history: Negative ads work

What recovery? Where? When?

It’s an open question.  Namely, is the great recession really over?  Economists will tell you, yes it is.  The economy has been growing, albeit minimally for several years now.  They call that a recovery.  Unfortunately, the reality is that it sure doesn’t feel like one.  Whether you’re in the Northern Neck, Southern California, or Texas, businesses are still closing, and jobs remain scarce.

The number most economists cite in discussing the health of the economy is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  That’s the sum total of everything we buy, sell, and save in the United States.  And yes, it’s been growing at a rate of about 2%.  But, while technically a recovery, because it’s increasing, it’s still the weakest rebound in 60 years.  For there to be any real improvement in our economic conditions, in terms of business activity and jobs, the rate of GDP growth would have to at least double. 

Read more: What recovery? Where? When?

Can we please have a campaign about ideas?

“In a sense, Romney, not an idea man by nature, infused his campaign with a few big ideas, by picking a running mate who has lots of them.”  

Contrary to what many politicians of both parties think the American people can still get excited by a discussion of ideas. Of course, the sad part is that on a national level, the discussion of ideas; about the role of government, our role in the world, and yes, just our philosophy of governance in general, gets a minimum of air time.

 It’s far easier to hatch far-out conspiracy theories about the President’s place of birth, or, to dominate today’s 24 hour news cycle asking the probing question of whether or not Mitt Romney paid 13% in income taxes in 2010.  In this environment ideas get shunted off to the side.

Read more: Can we please have a campaign about ideas?

Romney: Take a lesson from Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton

Republicans have started to rally behind their nominee. It was a fractious series of primaries, the jabs, the ads, and the commentaries were harsh, but, of course, that’s politics. Now, with the exception of some of the most hardcore, and they’re likely to come around before too long, the GOP is ready to nominate Mitt Romney. He should, by all conventional wisdom, particularly given the poor state of the economy, be the odds on favorite in November. 

Read more: Romney: Take a lesson from Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton

 

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